Nairobi Westgate mall attackers
Adnan Garaar is believed to have masterminded the Westgate shopping centre attack in NairobiTwitter

The Pentagon says it has killed al Shabaab leader Adnan Garaar in a drone attack in southern Somalia, along with two other al Shabaab members.

Ahmed Abdi Godane
Ahmed Abdi Godane, the previous leader of Somalia's al-Shabab, was also killed in a US air strike.US State Department/Reuters

The attack took place near the town of Dinsoor, 150 miles west of Mogadishu. According to residents the drone hit a car carrying three people. The vehicle was completely burnt.

In a statement the Pentagon said Garaar's death would deal a significant blow to the organisation.

"Garar was a key operative responsible for coordinating al-Shabaab's external operations, which target U.S. persons and other Western interests in order to further al-Qaida's goals and objectives. He posed a major threat to the region and the international community and was connected to the West Gate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya. His death has dealt another significant blow to the al Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia," said the Pentagon statement.

Al Shabaab are affiliated to Al Qaeda and are one of the most dangerous Islamist groups in Africa. As well as the Westgate attack they regularly carry out attacks in Somalia, Kenya and other countries including Uganda.

Notorious Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, known as the "White Widow", is thought to have been in Somalia for some time and to have married another Al Shabaab leader, Hassan Maalim Ibrahim.

In September 2014, the group's previous leader Ahmed Godane was killed in another US drone strike.